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First started as "My 2 Cents" in 1997, I have written posts numbering into the hundreds. It will take some time to resurrect the older posts, so keep checking back. They will include meet reports, travelogues, and news of interest to Ontario licence plate collectors.

Ottawa Christmas Dine-N-Swap 2022

2022 was the year of resumption in my plate geek world. I’d been taking for granted my various outings until 2019, and then I was deprived of them for two years. It’s nice to have these outings back, including the year-ending Christmas dinner in Ottawa, organized by Dave Grant. It was originally a casual event for locals only, just light conversation mixed with a little show-and-tell, with as few as five people one year. But we’ve had a few out-of-towners in more recent years.

Joe Sallmen and John Hayes consider some trading before dinner.

Joe Sallmen always makes the trip from West Virginia, but we consider him a local because he grew up here and still spends part of the holidays in town with his father. Mike and Alannah Franks now make the trip too, but Lindsay is “just” four hours away… small potatoes for a holiday trip. Jim Becksted has carpooled with the Frankses before, but he was stuck at home with work this time.

Mike and Alannah Franks made the trip. All smiles!

Frank Crooks attended for the first time, having made the two-hour drive from Montreal. And also joining us for the first time were Dave and Evelyn Steckley, who are the new long-distance champions, having driven from Acton. Dave had always been curious about our goings-on, but in 2022 he had the added incentive of picking up a partial collection of plates that I was holding for him.

Roger shows his plates to Frank.

Usually, we have a couple of drinks and pass around our various show-and-tell items before ordering any food. Mike DeVouge, an avid collector of PEI plates, was the first to crack open a treasure chest. He brought a stunning mini-run of PEI dealer plates from the 1920s. My favourite among them was the 1930 “Garden of the Gulf” with painted numbers that were partly alligatored.

Above: Mike DeVouge with one of his treasured PEI dealer plates. Below: Mike's 1922 PEI dealer plate.

I sat across from Roger Huestis, who had a pair of recent Ontario plates for me to pick up from a previously-arranged deal. I wanted a natural 2022 plate from an alpha series issued after the ill-fated Ontario blue plates… I didn’t want both my 2021 and 2022 to hail from the CM-series. I like to keep my alpha series a bit more spaced out.

Three deep plate conversations at once. Clockwise from top: Dave Steckley with Dave Grant, Mike Franks with Mike DeVouge, and Eric Vettoretti with John Hayes.

After dinner, I headed out to the car and wheeled in my three trade boxes. I plopped them on a nearby table and allowed the feeding frenzy to begin. Roger and Mike each had a box of traders as well, and Eric Vettoretti brought two. I was happy to sell off some awkwardly-long international plates, which don’t fit into my boxes and fall all over the place.

Things got a little wild when the trade boxes come out. From left to right are John Hayes, Brian Woodard, Joe Sallmen, and Frank Crooks.

Even with four people bringing trade boxes, the swapping action generally runs its course after no longer than half an hour. But the show-and-tell continued afterward when Eric unveiled his 1933 dealer plates… one of which was a unicorn-calibre truck dealer plate. Only three known examples of this type survive from any year (I’m still searching in vain myself).

Joe checks out Eric's impressive 1933 dealer set.

Mike and Alannah brought an oddity… Four truck plates with the same number, none with expiry stickers, but all clearly used. Truck plates don’t get reissued; if someone likes their truck plate number, it can only be re-ordered as a personalized plate, but they’d be made with blue numbers and legends. So how exactly these four plates all bear the same black numbers is a mystery. Mike also had five passenger plates that similarly defied convention or explanation.

Dave Grant with his hands full of mystery! There's no conventional way for these four plates to exist.

The great thing about our Boston Pizza venue, aside from its central location, is that it’s never busy after Christmas during a late evening. We basically own the place, so we can put our trade boxes where we need them, and there’s no need to keep a careful eye on our show-and-tell items. A party it ain’t, though: Most of us have been either driving for much of the day, or working, or visiting with relatives. With a seven o’clock start, most of us are tired by the three-hour mark, and so we depart to go to our respective homes or hotels.

Dave G., Alan and Frank are all smiles.

I headed home with my trade boxes a little lighter, and a couple of keepers for my collection. It was a nice way to wrap up 2022. It was a tumultuous year for the world in many respects, but if I narrow my vision to my hobby alone, it was a sure winner!

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